When done right, case studies are valuable marketing tools. They can bring your value proposition to life through real-world examples. They highlight your successes, and persuade a potential buyer to become your next client.
We see quite a few case studies that don’t do any of these things. They lack in measurable results, or are chock full of corporate jargon. They’re not engaging, they are alienating. Peoples’ eyes glaze over and suddenly, instead of helping you drive new leads, your case study is taking up space at best, and exhibiting to potential buyers your poor writing skills at worst.
Next time you want to create a good case study – one that gets read and gets results – keep these tips in mind:
Tell the Right Story
Be strategic about which clients you’re going to exhibit as case studies. Even if you just finished a successful engagement, that doesn’t mean it’s the right story to highlight in your next case study. Instead, take a step back and think about who your ideal customer is. Then ask yourself: Which stories (i.e. successful engagements) would appeal to them most? And which stories best support your business goals (for instance, are you aiming to break into new markets or expand in one niche market)? Those are the engagements you should be highlighting in a case study.
Keep It Focused
As a consultant, you likely have many different services you offer – and many different kinds of problems you solve. But no one wants to read a 5,000-word case study with an excruciating level of detail about every issue you’ve solved for a particular client. Instead, focus on just one problem/solution scenario in each. Doing so will give your case study clarity and keep it shorter.
Approach It Like an Article
Write like a journalist, not like a corporate lawyer or marketer. That means cutting out the hyberbole and generalizations, confusing legalese, and industry buzzwords. Instead, approach it like you’re writing an article. Present the facts, but in an engaging way that will keep the reader interested.
Quantify the Results
Nothing speaks louder to a potential buyer than a financial return on investment. So be sure to include measurable results in your case studies.
To do so, ask your client questions like:
• Has the solution paid for itself?
• Has it enabled the team to improve productivity or expand capacity?
• And by how much?
That last point is critically important. Just saying your solution “lowered turnover” is a great start. But being able to say your solution “lowered turnover by 20% over the course of a year” is better. And unless you have these kinds of results, your case studies won’t be as powerful as they could be.
Make It Easy to Read
Dense paragraphs and a lack of graphics are going to turn off your audience. Instead, format your case study content with headlines, subheads, bullets and bold and italicized text.
Also, think about how you can incorporate graphic elements. For instance, rather than writing about a financial return on investment, you may want to demonstrate it using an infographic instead. Or use sidebars to highlight key points.
Consider Multiple Formats
Every case study should cover the business context, client pain/problem, your solution, and the results. However, that doesn’t mean all your case studies have to be the same. For instance, rather than a written document, consider creating a video instead, or a podcast Q&A session with your client.
Whether you’re a consulting veteran, or you’ve only been at it a few years, you’ve got stories to tell. And creating case studies will enable you to harness the power of your intellectual assets and turn them into new business leads…if you do it right.